RAWALPINDI   -  With the construction of reservoirs and soil erosion controlling structures, nearly 33,000 acres land was made cultivable in last two years in Rawalpindi region. The Directorate of Soil Conservation (DSC) Rawalpindi region has made all out efforts to help boost agricultural productivity, said Director DSC, Malik Ghulam Akbar.

He told APP, “Fish and cattle farming businesses are now flourishing in the region. The mini-dams and ponds are used to divert water for irrigation and other purposes.” He said, the water stored in the mini-dams was also being utilized for vegetable and fruit cultivation. Fish farming was introduced in the region which had become an additional source of income for the farmers. All interventions of soil and water conservation were benefiting the farmers, he said.

He informed that the DSC, Rawalpindi region constructed 105 mini-dams in the Potohar region during the last two years. 205 ponds, 40 storage tanks, 148 gabion spurs and 30 earthen bunds were also constructed. A total 1,507 structures, including 337 gully plugging, 353 water disposal outlets and 298 retaining walls, were constructed in the region during the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18. Nearly 80pc subsidy was provided to the farmers for the completion of these schemes, he added.

The construction of the mini-dams and ponds also developed positive environmental effects. The underground water table was rising up with more employment opportunities for the residents; he said and informed that the department also planted saplings on 334.50 acres.

To a question, the official said earlier the department had constructed over 1,200 mini-dams. A mini-dam is constructed on 40 acres. He said revolutionary steps were taken for the development of agriculture in the region.

Akbar said the major problems in the Potohar region were soil erosion and water runoff as most of the rainwater was wasted which also caused soil erosion at a large scale. The water management department was also providing 80pc subsidy to the farmers for installation of solar system. It is economical, an effective and environment friendly technology, he added.

He said the department was also striving to promote tunnel farming and 50pc subsidy was being provided to the farmers for installing tunnels to produce off-season vegetables and fruits.  At present, over 100 acres is under tunnel farming in the Potohar region.

The official added that the Potohar region was facing a severe shortage of water and the situation necessitated efficient irrigation system such as drip and sprinkler systems. He said the department was providing 60pc subsidy on drip and sprinkler irrigation system. Drip irrigation system has 90 to 95pc efficiency and sprinkler irrigation system saves 60 to 70pc water compared to traditional irrigation system, he added. Drip system has helped irrigate over 4,443 acres while 1,090 acres was covered through sprinkler irrigation system installed during the last two years.